The University of Toledo is teaming up with Imagination Station to develop a preschool network to promote hands-on science exploration in the region.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur announced last week a $311,676 competitive grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ National Leadership Grants for Museums awarded to the Imagination Station to create the network, which will be called Prime Time, that will promote early STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in partnership with UT and other local educational partners.
“It is vitally important that we expose young children to STEM educational opportunities,” Kaptur said. “We know that investments in early education programs provide significant long-term dividends in a child’s education. The Imagination Station is the perfect facilitator to bring together our regional groups to enhance the STEM education of our youngest citizens. While this specific project focuses on preschoolers, the science center is a vital resource for children and adults of all ages in our region.”
Dr. Charlene Czerniak, professor emeritus of science education and research professor in the UT College of Engineering, was the primary author of the successful grant proposal.
“The University of Toledo’s role is to provide best practices resulting from our previous research to engage both pre-K children and their parents in inquiry-based learning through meaningful play,” she said. “It is important to let children play and explore, but we want to enhance that experience with questions about why did that happen or what do you think the result will be if we do this differently? It is getting young people excited about predicting the outcome and then learning through hands-on investigation.”
Czerniak led the UT NURTURES research program, which stands for Networking Urban Resources with Teachers and University enRich Early Childhood Science, which was funded with a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The interactive family programs and the take-home family science packs created for NURTURES will be updated to fit this new Prime Time program. UT educators Dr. Susanna Hapgood and Dr. Lacey Strickler-Eppler, who are associated with the NURTURES program, also will provide training for Imagination Station staff.
In addition to UT, the community partners include the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Earl Learner’s Collaborative, Aspire, Polly Fox Academy and Summit YMCA Head Start.